Veolia to destroy Syrian chemicals at Cheshire site

17 January 2014

Veolia Environmental Services is to dispose of 150 tonnes of chemicals from Syria at its Cheshire hazardous waste incinerator, as part of an international mission to destroy the country’s chemical weapons programme.

The UK Government-backed programme will see Veolia treating ‘B-precursor’ chemicals removed from the country, at its high temperature incineration facility in Ellesmere Port.
Opened in 1990, Veolia’s Ellesmere Port facility treats some 100,000 tonnes of hazardous materials a year and employs 73 staff.

The Syrian conflict is thought to have claimed more than 100,000 lives since March 2011
The Syrian conflict is thought to have claimed more than 100,000 lives since March 2011

The consignment, which will be delivered to the facility under its existing hazardous waste treatment contract with the Ministry of Defence’s Disposal Services Authority (DSA), has already passed ‘rigorous’ audit inspections.

The industrial-grade chemicals are routinely used in the UK pharmaceutical industry, and are similar in nature to standard industrial materials safely processed on a regular basis at the Veolia site.

The Foreign Office has confirmed the material is not a chemical weapon agent, and only becomes toxic if mixed with A-precursor chemicals, which are being removed separately from the Syrian stockpile.

Destruction

Estelle Brachlianoff, Veolia Environnement executive vice-president, UK & Northern Europe, welcomed the Government’s decision to select Veolia in order to carry out ‘safe’ destruction of the chemicals.

She said:  “We are pleased to have been selected by the British Government to support this important initiative which will see our Ellesmere Port facility directly involved at the start of the implementation of the international mission to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons programme.

“We will continue to work closely with the Ministry of Defence and relevant UK authorities to ensure the safe destruction of these chemicals in line with our high environmental, health, safety and operating standards.”

Syria agreed to give up its chemical programme following a deal brokered between the US and Russia last year. The call for disposal came after rockets filled with deadly sarin chemicals were used on civilians in the Ghouta agricultural belt around the Syrian capital of Damascus, provoking international outrage.

The United Nations estimates more than 100,000 people have died in the Syrian conflict since it began in March 2011, with some 6.5 million displaced internally.

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